[dip-suh-mey-nee-uh, -soh-]
Dipsomania is a term which describes an uncontrollable craving for alcohol. The etymology breaks down as "compulsive thirst" but the term when used, is reserved primarily related to the uncontrollable consumption of alcohol. As a result, a dipsomaniac is a person in which this condition appears, in the form of a physical and psychological craving for ethyl alcohol, especially liquor. The more common term in popular usage now appears to be alcoholism.

The etymology of dipsomania suggests that the term predates alcoholism according this standard on-line dictionary source. In European languages, the standard medical term dipsomania is unchanged from one language to the next. A search of MedicineNet for dipsomania returns "dipsomania" (an abnormal craving for alcohol)"; a search of MediLexicon for dipsomania returns "a recurring compulsion to drink alcoholic beverages to excess". Searching for dipsomania on HealthLine returns articles on alcoholism. There appears to be no real difference between the definitions of dipsomania and alcoholism.

Amongst people struggling with this affliction, the term dipsomania is almost identical to alcoholism. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous describes alcoholics thus: "We alcoholics are men and women who have lost the ability to control our drinking. We know that no real alcoholic ever recovers control. All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals, usually brief, were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization.. This description of the alcoholics' struggle is almost identical to the description in the first paragraph. In the first chapter of AA, the doctor describes the life of the alcoholic: "After they have succumbed to the desire (i.e. the "lust for alcohol") again, as so many do, and the phenomenon of craving develops, they pass through the well-known stages of a spree, emerging remorseful, with a firm resolution not to drink again. This is repeated over and over . . .

There appears to be no cure for dipsomania (or alcoholism), with the exception of abstinence from alcohol of any kind. Dipsomanics tend to be social, outgoing individuals, who find an unusual phenomenon overtakes any will not to drink, and the compulsion becomes so overwhelming that it cannot be stopped in many cases. The dipsomaniac (or alcoholic) will fall prey to this compulsion and eventually drink until blackouts, seizures, or even death, occurs .


In certain African countries it is believed that a cold infusion, made from the roots of the Buffalo Thorn, can curb this addiction. The irony is, however, that the same Buffalo Thorn produces berries, from which a very potent alcoholic drink called Katkasu can be home-brewed.

On the other hand, in the modern world, there are many treatments (chemical, pharmaceutical, and spiritual) for dipsomania and alcoholism. Most current treatments are covered and linked through the alcoholism and related articles.

Famous Dipsomaniacs

In 1921, John W. Robertson theorized that Dipsomania could have been the cause of the mysterious death of writer Edgar Allan Poe.



"Poe's Life." The PoeMuseum. http://www.poemuseum.org/poes_life/death_myths.html

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